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Memorizing the Months of the Baha’i Calendar

Christopher Buck | Apr 18, 2024

PART 46 IN SERIES Transforming Time: Turning Godly Perfections Into Goodly Actions

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Apr 18, 2024

PART 46 IN SERIES Transforming Time: Turning Godly Perfections Into Goodly Actions

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

William Shakespeare famously asked: What’s in a name? So do certain names have meanings that give them intrinsic or potential power? Do names have the ability to influence, ideally for the better? 

What about the deep meanings of the names of God revealed throughout the world’s great Faiths — names like beauty, grandeur, light, mercy, and honor? Do those names have a special power?

The Bab — the herald and forerunner of Baha’u’llah, who founded the Baha’i Faith — certainly said so. He named the seven weekdays, the 19 days of each Baha’i month, the 19 months of each calendar year, and the 19 years of each of the 19-year cycles of the Baha’i Calendar, after attributes of the Creator. 

RELATED: Understanding Intercalary Days and the Baha’i Calendar

As provisionally translated by Nader Saiedi in his book, “Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Bab,” the Bab originated the new Baha’i Calendar and wrote about its power of inspiration:

Thus, He hath destined each day to be the springtime of one of His laws, that the inmates of this paradise may partake of divine delights in the utmost joy possible within the realm of creation. Therefore, during the first three months — the months of glorification — the fire of the hearts of existent beings is kindled. During the next four months — the months of the celebration of praise — the spirits of the contingent beings are created, during which time they are provided for. In the subsequent six months — the months of the exaltation of unity — God causeth the beings to expire, not as a physical death, but the death of negation and life in affirmation. Finally, in the last six months — which are the months of magnification — the Lord of the universe, glorified and exalted be He, quickeneth those souls who have died to the love of anyone other than Him and have remained steadfast in His love. 

In the book “Principles of Baha’i Administration, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, listed the names of the 19 months in the Baha’i Calendar — and the contemplative purpose of these names:

The Bab, the Primal Point of a new creation, brought humanity into a new division of time in a calendar of nineteen months. All through our past heritage the months of the years and the days of the week have borne the names of pagan feasts and Roman holidays. The Báb swept these ancient landmarks away, and replaced them by the Qualities of: Splendour, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light, Mercy, Words, Perfection, Names, Might, Will, Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions, Honour, Sovereignty, Dominion, and Loftiness. Meditating upon these sublime attributes, man is enabled to gaze beyond the curve of time, wherein the swing and change of planetary movements exists, to the eternal qualities that stabilize the soul.

“Meditating upon these sublime attributes” — which are also “the eternal qualities that stabilize the soul” — is one of the primary purposes and benefits of the Baha’i Calendar, according to Shoghi Effendi. 

That same kind of meditation, or concentrated reflection, also extends to the additional names of God, after which the seven days of the week and the 19 years of a Baha’i cycle of years are also named. (The following names are presented together and are consecutively and cumulatively numbered for the convenience of the reader):

Names of the Baha’i months (and days of the month): 

  • 1. Baha (Splendour)
  • 2. Jalal (Glory)
  • 3. Jamal (Beauty)
  • 4. Azamat (Grandeur)
  • 5. Nur (Light)
  • 6. Rahmat (Mercy)
  • 7. Kalimat (Words)
  • 8. Kamal (Perfection)
  • 9. Asma (Names)
  • 10. Izzat (Might)
  • 11. Mashíyyat (Will)
  • 12. Ilm (Knowledge)
  • 13. Qudrat (Power)
  • 14. Qawl (Speech)
  • 15. Masa’il (Questions)
  • 16. Sharaf (Honour)
  • 17. Sultan (Sovereignty)
  • 18. Mulk (Dominion)
  • Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days)
  • 19. Ala (Loftiness)

Names of the Baha’i days of the week

  • 20. Jalal (Glory) [Same as #2]
  • 21. Jamal (Beauty) [Same as #3]
  • 22. Kamal (Perfection) [Same as #8]
  • 23. Fidal (Grace)
  • 24. Idal (Justice)
  • 25. Istijlal (Majesty)
  • 26. Istiqlal (Independence)
  • Names of the Baha’i years:
  • 27. Alif
  • 28. Ba
  • 29. Ab (Father)
  • 30. Dal
  • 31. Bab (Gate)
  • 32. Vav
  • 33. Abad (Eternity)
  • 34. Jad (Splendour)
  • 35. Baha (Splendour) [Same as #1]
  • 36. Hubb (Love)
  • 37. Bahhaj (Delightful)
  • 38. Javab (Answer)
  • 39. Ahad (Single)
  • 40. Vahhab (Bountiful)
  • 41. Vidad (Affection)
  • 42. Badi (Beginning)
  • 43. Bahi (Luminous)
  • 44. Abha (Most Luminous)
  • 45. Vahid (Unity)

Note: In the Baha’i Calendar (originally created by the Bab, then adopted and adapted by Baha’u’llah), these four calendar names, Alif, Ba, Dal, and Vav, are the only terms listed without English translations. These are four letters of the Arabic alphabet, but they are far more than mere letters. Each of these letters is rich in symbolic meanings. For example, the letters Alif and Vav are referenced by Baha’u’llah in his Most Holy Book as follows: 

Behold, the “mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign” hath now been made manifest. Well is it with him whom God hath aided to recognize the “Six” raised up by virtue of this “Upright Alif”; he, verily, is of those whose faith is true.

This mystical and highly symbolic passage is interpreted: 

Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf to one of the believers in the East provides an interpretation of this verse of the Aqdas. He states that the “Upright Alif” refers to the advent of the Bab. The first letter with its value of six, which comes before the Alif, is a symbol of earlier Dispensations and Manifestations which predate the Bab, while the third letter, which also has a numerical value of six, stands for Baha’u’llah’s supreme Revelation which was made manifest after the Alif.

Similarly, Abdu’l-Baha explained thatthe letter Ba’, which is the sum total of all truths and mysteries, … refers to Baha’u’llah.

The names of God, as set forth above, are by no means exhaustive. There are many other Names of God as well. Consider, for instance, the Name of God as the “Fashioner,” which Baha’u’llah explained in one of his tablets:

One of the names of God is the Fashioner. He loveth craftsmanship. Therefore any of His servants who manifesteth this attribute is acceptable in the sight of this Wronged One. Craftsmanship is a book among the books of divine sciences, and a treasure among the treasures of His heavenly wisdom. This is a knowledge with meaning, for some of the sciences are brought forth by words and come to an end with words.

This name, the “Fashioner,” can be a source of inspiration, willpower, and confirmation.

RELATED: Naw-Ruz, the Baha’i New Year, and the Symbol of the Equinox

This entire “Transforming Time: Turning Godly Perfections Into Goodly Actions” series has offered various reflections and meditations on each of the names of the Baha’i months, and most of the names of the weekdays and years as well. Hopefully, this will encourage readers to do likewise in their personal meditations and devotions as we, each in our own way, take the time to contemplate the inspiration of the timeless spiritual dimension in real-time. 

For an easy way to memorize the names of the months of the Baha’i Calendar, I’ve created this 50-word sentence in the spirit of Shoghi Effendi’s call to meditate on the qualities of the soul and the human spirit, which derive from the names of God:

By the Light of Knowledge and Questions, through the Power and Might of Will, Speech and Words, by acting with Honour and Mercy, striving for Perfection, exemplifying Beauty, Grandeur, and Loftiness of character, we can show forth such divine “Names” (attributes of God) as Glory and Splendour, Sovereignty and Dominion.

Here, the names of the 19 Baha’i months are all capitalized for easy reference. Each person who chooses to reflect on the attributes of God that can be exemplified as human qualities and virtues will undoubtedly have a blessed day!

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